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Iran Presidential elections: Who are the candidates? Other details – Times of India

WorldIran Presidential elections: Who are the candidates? Other details - Times of India

The people of Iran began casting their votes on Friday to elect a new president after the death of Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash last month.
The Guardian Council, a stringent panel consisting of clerics and jurists under the supervision of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who holds the ultimate authority in all state affairs, screened over 80 aspiring candidates including 4 women and only six were filtered out through the rigorous selection process.
Following the Guardian Council’s approval of six candidates for the 2024 election, two contenders who withdrew from the race on Thursday are Alireza Zakani and Amir-Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi, both considered hardliners, who decided to step back from their presidential bids.
Among the notable hardliners still in contention are Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, the current parliament speaker and former commander of the formidable Revolutionary Guards, and Saeed Jalili, a past nuclear negotiator who spent four years working in Khamenei’s office.
Top 4 selected candidates are:
Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf
Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, a supporter of Khamenei and former commander of the Iran Revolutionary Guards, currently serves as the speaker of the parliament, which is dominated by hardliners. He has previously made two unsuccessful bids for the presidency and withdrew from a third attempt in 2017 to avoid splitting the hardline vote during Raisi’s initial failed presidential campaign.
In 2005, Qalibaf left the Guards to pursue his presidential ambitions. He was appointed as the mayor of Tehran with the backing of the supreme leader, a position he held for 12 years.
Civil rights activists remember Qalibaf as a national police chief, suppressed protests, personally assaulting demonstrators in 1999, and actively participated in quelling unrest in 2003.
Massoud Pezeshkian
Pezeshkian, an Azeri Iranian parliamentarian, stands as the sole moderate contender approved by the Guardian Council and supported by the reformist faction. His success hinges on mobilizing the vast numbers of disaffected voters who have abstained from voting since 2020.
A medical doctor by profession, Pezeshkian held the position of health minister during the reformist administration of President Mohammad Khatami from 2001 to 2005. He has been a member of parliament continuously since 2008.
Pezeshkian has openly denounced the Islamic Republic for its lack of transparency surrounding the custodial death of Mahsa Amini, a young Iranian Kurdish woman in 2022, which triggered months of unrest.
He was previously disqualified from running in the 2021 presidential election.
Saeed Jalili
Jalili, a hardline diplomat, lost his right leg while fighting for the Guards in the Iran-Iraq war during the 1980s. With a PhD in political science, Jalili has openly expressed his devout belief in Iran’s “velayat-e faqih”, or rule by supreme jurisprudence, which forms the foundation of Khamenei’s position.
Jalili, who was appointed by Khamenei, held the position of secretary of the Supreme National Security Council for five years starting from 2007.
Jalili worked in Khamenei’s office for four years and ran as a candidate in the 2013 presidential election, albeit unsuccessfully, but having previously served as a deputy foreign minister, Jalili was appointed by Khamenei in 2013 as a member of the Expediency Council, an entity responsible for resolving conflicts between parliament and the Guardian Council.
Mostafa Pourmohammadi
Mostafa, the sole cleric vying for the presidency, previously held the position of interior minister during the initial term of hardline former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from 2005 to 2008.
From 1990 to 1999, Mostafa served as deputy intelligence minister. Rights groups have accused him of involvement in the assassinations of several prominent dissident intellectuals within Iran in 1998.
In a report published in 2005, Human Rights Watch documented Mostafa’s alleged participation in the execution of hundreds of political prisoners in Tehran in 1988.
Voting date and time
The polling stations opened their doors on June 28, Friday at 8.00 am and are scheduled to close at 6.00 pm. However, the voting hours are often extended, sometimes until midnight.
The upcoming election in Iran is not expected to significantly alter the nation’s political trajectory, but the results could play a role in determining the successor to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the 85-year-old supreme leader who has held power since 1989.
Khamenei urged citizens to participate in the election in large numbers. He said, “The durability, strength, dignity and reputation of the Islamic Republic depend on the presence of people,” adding that “High turnout is a definite necessity.”
Latest polling percentage
According to NYT, the latest polls, published by the conservative, government-run Imam Sadiq University earlier this week showed Masoud Pezeshkian leading with approximately 24.4% of votes, Mohammad Baqer Ghalibaf at 23.4% and Saeed Jalili at 21.5%. The other candidates each had less than 5% of the vote, and nearly a fifth of voters were undecided.
Voter percentage in previous elections
Voter participation has significantly decreased over the past four years, with a largely young population growing increasingly dissatisfied with political and social restrictions.
Due to the manual process of counting votes, the results are anticipated to be revealed in two days, although preliminary results may be available earlier.
Those who oppose Iran’s clerical leadership argue that the declining voter turnout in recent elections, with only 48% participating in the 2021 election that brought Raisi to power and a record low of 41% in the parliamentary election three months ago, indicates a diminishing legitimacy of the system.
The upcoming presidential election in Iran is taking place amidst escalating tensions in the Middle East. Israel remains engaged in conflicts with Iran’s proxies, including Hamas, which operates in Gaza, and Hezbollah, based in Lebanon.
(With inputs from agencies)

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